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Giovanni Girolamo Kapsberger (1580 - 1651)

Giovanni Girolamo Kapsperger (c.1580-1651) was known as “il Tedesco della Tiorba” (the German of the Theorbo). Although his parents were of German descent, he was born in Venice and later moved to Rome. In 1626 the theorist Doni said that Kapsberger was the “finest master of the theorbo in Rome”, but Doni later fell out with Kapsberger and wrote ill of him.

Kapsberger wrote demanding music and was a pioneer in developing new musical devices for the theorbo, including strascini (long slurred passages), campanellas (little bells), cross-strung harp effects, and more. Kircher wrote of Kapsberger: “The noble musician Hieronymus Kapsberger Germanus, author of innumerable writings and distinguished musical publications, with his superb genius and other scientific skills in which he was expert, successfully penetrated the secrets of music”.


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